Lessons are focused, pacey and engaging, with the focus being on how the pupils learn, as opposed to how the teachers teach. Traditional teaching methods absolutely have their place, but we strongly advocate lessons in which pupils are actively involved in a dynamic process of thinking. Learning, it is said, is ‘supervised trying’ and we insist that working hard and working intelligently must always be the root of our success. We also know that learning is most rewarding in a community that is lively, co-operative, critical and, fundamentally, engaged with the joy of discovery.
Independent learning is a hugely important aim for us. With this in mind, all year 10 pupils will take the Higher Project qualification from September 2017 and from September 2016 onwards, the majority of our Sixth Formers will take the Extended Project qualification. These qualifications will encourage pupils to think for themselves and come to answers through discussion and reflection.
We believe that education is richer and deeper when students approach their learning philosophically, asking themselves questions that lead to deeper thinking, and engaging with problems to which there may be no agreed answers. Education in this rich sense is more than a preparation for future work: it is a preparation for life in the complex and uncertain world that our students will enter.
Of course, examination success is important too and whilst pupils are encouraged to learn independently, they are also taught the knowledge and skills required for excellent performance in examinations. Independent learning is excellent preparation for examination success, but there will always be a place for precise instruction in the requirements of different assessment types, the essentials of examination technique, and the analysis of past examination performance.